Hungary + 8 more

Greece, Hungary, Serbia: ACT Alliance Refugees/Migrants Humanitarian Response, Revision 2 – EUR151

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Dear Colleagues,

In 2015, 1,015,078 refugees/ migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in search for protection from war, conflict or persecution at home, as well as deteriorating conditions in many refugee-hosting countries and countries of transit which do not offer safety or the possibility to establish a new existence. 856, 723 refugees/ migrants reached Greece from Turkey. From January 2016 until present 128, 735 refugees/ migrants arrived in Greece compared to 13,440 refugees/ migrants in the same period in 2015 - 10 times higher in numbers. Additionally, crossing the Mediterranean Sea is a death- defying journey. 410 people lost their lives from January 2016 until present - among them children and women.

In winter months the number of arrivals reduced slightly; mainly due to harsh winter conditions at sea. The numbers of refugees/ migrants where higher than predicted by most, as smugglers reduced fees for crossing by boat. As a result, demographic compositions changed and more vulnerable groups reached the shores. Particularly, numbers of women and children increased. Furthermore, composition of nationalities changed. While the number of refugees from Syria reduced, more and more people from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq increased.

The situation along the so called Balkan Route remains volatile. As of September 2015 European countries prefer national solutions to deal with this Refugee/ Migrant Crisis. As a result, countries are closing national borders or limiting the numbers of refugees/ migrants allowed to enter. Some nationalities, like Afghans, are not allowed to continue their journey to their preferred country of asylum. This recent development, resulted so far into 33,000 people stranded on the Greece mainland, and also people stranded in Serbia; waiting in limbo.All Balkan transit countries and Greece are currently hosting refugees/ migrants being returned across borders. Humanitarian needs are varied as migrants are not only in transit, but also stranded.

The Greece government lacks resources and capacities to appropriately address the humanitarian needs of the refugees/ migrants; mainly due to restrictions and regulations given by the EU and IMF. There is a high probability that the Balkan route will be closed soon; turning Greece from a transit country to a host country and backstop country for other EU member states, unwilling or feeling unable to handle a relatively high number of refugee/ migrants. These recent developments have two immediate results. Firstly, the Greece government cannot cope single-handedly with the humanitarian needs of the high number of refugees/migrants, Therefore, in need of external humanitarian assistance. Secondly, refugees/ migrants in their plight and in search for protection from conflict, war and persecution as well as dignity will try other routes, which might be more life threatening and risky as crossing the Mediterranean Sea and will play into smugglers search for more profit.

ACT Alliance, through its members in Greece, Hungary and Serbia started to provide humanitarian assistance before the first appeal was issued in September 2015. Due to the volatile situation and subsequently the rapid change in numbers of refugees/ migrants and their needs, both, implementing and donor members, called for a first revision of the ACT EUR151 Appeal, issued 13th November 2015.

There were 3 main reasons: a) sufficient funding was raised for an appeal extension, b) Hungary receives a significantly small number of refugees/ migrants due to its closure of borders. As a result, the needs decreased significantly and Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) reduced its project activities, c) due to the rapidly changing situation it was jointly agreed to have a flexible approach. This approach entails the use of generic budget lines, to focus on outcomes rather than outputs, to name a wide margin of target group size and to provide lump sums. Furthermore, in a way to ensure transparency towards donors, implementing partners will provide lists of possible food and non-food items as well as ensuring timely reporting.

Next to a change in situation along the Balkan route, there are two more reasons for a second revision of the appeal: Firstly, the EUR 151 appeal marks a novelty in ACT Alliance history as the appeal has been overfunded with 126%. Therefore, IOCC/ Apostoli in Greece and Philanthropy in Serbia had to step up their activities in a way to reach their cover of funding pledges. Secondly, Christian Aid has been included as a new requesting member for the humanitarian advocacy component within the appeal. With this second revised appeal ACT members will now continue and expand their coordinated response.